Flowers et al v. Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER : IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois' Motion for Joinder as to Joyce S. Ray, Sandra Merritt, and Joan South (ECF No. 6 ) is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, within 30 days from the date ofthis Order, Plaintiff shall file an amended complaint joining Joyce S. Ray, Sandra Merritt, and Joan South as plaintiffs in this matter. Signed by District Judge Ronnie L. White on 4/6/2016. (KCB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
LINDA S. FLOWERS, and
LYNN D. FLOWERS, JR.,
COMP ANY OF ILLINOIS,
No. 4:15CV1588 RLW
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Defendant Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois'
Motion for Joinder as to Joyce S. Ray, Sandra Merritt, and Joan South (ECF No. 6). The motion
is fully briefed and ready for disposition.
This lawsuit arises out of an automobile accident that occurred on June 1, 2013 when a
vehicle operated by Joyce Ray ("Ray vehicle") collided with a vehicle operated by Kelly Payne.
Ms. Ray had three passengers in her car: Linda Flowers, Sandra Merritt, and Joan South.
Plaintiff Linda Flowers and her husband originally filed suit in the Circuit Court of St. Louis
County, Missouri, seeking to recover underinsured motorist benefits ("UIM") under two policies
issued by Defendant Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois ("Safeco"). One policy was issued to
Plaintiffs, and the other was issued to Ms. Ray ("Ray policy"). The Ray policy contained limits
for the UIM coverage totaling $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident. According to
Defendant, Ms. Ray, Ms. Merritt, and Ms. South are also seeking UIM under the Ray policy, and
their demands exceed the $100,000 per accident provided in the policy.
In response to Plaintiffs' Complaint, Defendant filed the present Motion for Joinder
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a) to join Ms. Ray, Ms. Merritt, and Ms. South as
plaintiffs in this matter. Defendant asserts that because each of the four occupants of the Ray
vehicle is making a claim for the limited amount ofUIM benefits available under the Ray policy,
the claimants should be joined as plaintiffs in this lawsuit to allow the Court to determine
entitlement and amount. Plaintiffs oppose joinder on the ground that Defendant has not
presented evidence suggesting that the other passengers have legitimate claims against
Defendant for UIM coverage.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19 governs the requiredjoinder of parties. The rule
states, in relevant part:
(a) Persons Required to Be Joined if Feasible.
(1) Required Party. A person who is subject to service of process and whose
joinder will not deprive the court of subject-matter jurisdiction must be
joined as a party if:
(A) in that person' s absence, the court cannot accord complete relief
among existing parties; or
(B) that person claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is
so situated that disposing of the action in the person's absence may:
(i) as a practical matter impair or impede the person' s ability to
protect the interest; or
(ii) leave an existing party subject to a substantial risk of incurring
double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations because of
Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a)(l)(A)&(B). Further, " [i]f a person has not been joined as required, the
court must order that the person be made a party." Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a)(2).
Defendant argues that the other three occupants of the Ray vehicle should be joined as
plaintiffs to prevent them from being deprived of any recovery and to avoid unnecessary
duplicative litigation and possible inconsistent results. Plaintiffs oppose Defendant' s motion,
arguing that Defendant has presented no evidence that the other passengers have a legitimate
claim for UIM benefits and that, if these passengers wished to join the action, they should seek
Defendant has attached to its reply brief Exhibits A through E. These exhibits include
demand letters from the attorney for Ms. Merritt and a Petition filed in the Circuit Court of the
City of St. Louis seeking UIM benefits from the Ray policy through Defendant Safeco. (Def.' s
Exs. A-C, ECF Nos. 10-1 , 10-2, 10-3) Additionally, Ms. South' s attorney sent a letter indicating
his intent to file a claim on the UIM portion of the Ray policy. (Def. 's Ex. D, ECF No. 10-4)
Finally, Ms. Ray' s attorney sent a demand letter to Defendant, requesting payment of $50,000 in
UIM benefits under her own policy. (Def.'s Ex. E, ECF No. 10-5) These exhibits demonstrate
not only that Ms. Ray and the other two passengers have a claim for UIM benefits, but also their
plans to pursue those claims. Indeed, Ms. Merritt has a pending action in state court.
"The plain language of Rule 19(a)(l)(B) provides that an unjoined party is 'required' if
that party claims an interest in the proceedings." Sheevam v. Patel, No. 4:09CV00925 DDN,
2009 WL 4430738, at *4 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 25, 2009) (quoting Gemini Ins. Co. v. Clever Constr. ,
Inc. , Cv. No. 09-290 DAE-BMK, 2009 WL 3378593 , at *3 (D. Haw. Oct. 21 , 2009)). Further, if
the party is aware of an action yet chooses not to claim an interest, the court does not err by
findingjoinder unnecessary. Id
Here, the Ray policy provides only $100,000 total UIM coverage per accident. The
driver and all three passengers have claimed an interest in UIM benefits, the subject of this
action, and the demands exceed the $100,000 limitation. In addition, disposition of this case
could impair the other claimants' ability to protect their interests and could subject Defendant to
a substantial risk of incurring inconsistent obligations because of the interests of the driver and
all passengers in the Ray vehicle. Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a)(l)(B). Thus, the Court finds that Ms.
Ray, Ms. Merritt, and Ms. South have an interest in the subject ofthis cause of action and are
required parties to protect those interests. See, e.g. , Ridgeway v. Bank ofAmerica, N A., No. 4:13
CV 289 RWS, 2013 WL 3724818, at *3 (E.D. Mo. July 16, 2013) (finding beneficiaries of a
trust to be necessary parties under Rule 19 in an action breach of fiduciary duty). These parties
are all subject to service of process. Further, because the amount in controversy exceeds
$75,000, the Plaintiff and required parties are citizens of Missouri, and Defendant Safeco is a
citizen of Illinois, joinder will not destroy diversity jurisdiction. Id. Therefore, the Court will
grant Defendant' s motion.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois'
Motion for Joinder as to Joyce S. Ray, Sandra Merritt, and Joan South (ECF No. 6) is
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, within 30 days from the date ofthis Order, Plaintiff
shall file an amended complaint joining Joyce S. Ray, Sandra Merritt, and Joan South as
plaintiffs in this matter.
Dated this 6th day of April, 2016.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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